A special thank you to the Cummings Foundation for supporting HLA's Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids!  


Many children in, or at risk of entering, our juvenile justice system end up there because of unmet mental health needs. HLA’s Mental Health Advocacy Program for Kids (MHAP for Kids) has a proven track record of significantly improving the lives of these children and their families while reducing unnecessary costs for the state. 

MHAP for Kids has 15 staff attorneys who are each based at a Family Resource Center across the state and who serve youth and families in every county across the Commonwealth. Review our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to learn more.

Is your child/student/client experiencing difficulty accessing mental health services?

Give us a call at 617.275.2919 for an intake or use our toll-free number at 855.218.3965.



MHAP for Kids’ attorneys, who are specially trained in health, education, state agency, and juvenile justice law, are based in Family Resource Centers located in Boston (Roxbury), Brockton, Everett, Fitchburg, Holyoke, Hyannis, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Pittsfield, New Bedford, Quincy, Springfield, and Worcester.


What services does MHAP for Kids provide?

  • Begin or improve special education services
  • Secure and/or coordinate community-based mental health services
  • Collaborate with Dept. of Children and Families, Dept. of Mental Health, and Dept. of Developmental Services
  • Advocate for general education accommodations
  • Assist with health insurance coverage


Proven Results

Boston University's School of Public Health (BUSPH) has evaluated MHAP for Kids since 2015.

From 2015-2017, BUSPH measured the outcomes of MHAP for Kids and some key highlights were:

  • Improved school attendance;
  • Decreased use of emergency mental health services by children;
  • Decreased inpatient hospitalizations of children;
  • Decreased children’s stays in residential facilities;
  • Decreased children's stays in emergency shelters;
  • Significantly improved overall mental health of children;
  • Significantly reduced parental rates of depression; and
  • Significantly decreased parental stress.

Read the full report here


BUSPH continued to evaluate MHAP for Kids from 2017-2021, studying changes to the program, baseline data on youth and families served, and the impact of COVID-19. The study found that:

  • Through program improvements informed by previous evaluations, MHAP for Kids is increasingly helping children receive needed mental health services earlier in their lives, preventing unnecessary negative consequences such as court-involvement, and serving a much more diverse client population.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health symptoms and impacted the provision of special education services.
  • Prior to working with a staff attorney, youth and families experienced high utilization of inpatient hospitalization and crisis or emergency services; high levels of adult depression symptoms, family stress, and conflict; and nearly universal significant systems-level barriers to accessing care.
  • Many families considered or resorted to foster care or kinship placement, or help from the courts or the police.

Read the full 2022 report here.


Watch Ben's Story:

Ben's Story from Tira Khan, Sugarhouse Media on Vimeo

Watch Avante's Story: 

Avante's Story from Tira Khan, Sugarhouse Media on Vimeo.

Watch Tristan's Story:

Tristan's Story from Tira Khan, Sugarhouse Media on Vimeo.


MHAP for Kids is generously supported by grants from The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, the Cummings Foundation, the Mabel Louise Riley Foundation, the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation, the Beveridge Family Foundation, the Harold Brooks Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Co-Trustee, the Charles H. Hall Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, the Albert W. Rice Charitable Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee, the John W. Alden Trust, the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, the Massachusetts Bar Foundation, and the Bennett Family Foundation.

Funding for MHAP for Kids is also provided by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families and the Massachusetts Probation Service. Generous support for this program has also been provided by Boston Children’s Hospital and Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP and many more corporate and individual supporters.